The Phantom of the Opera - The Ultimate Edition (1925 Original Version and 1929 Restored Version)
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A mad and disfigured musician hides out in the dungeons under the Paris Opera where he falls in love with a young singer and lures her to his hiding place.
Genre: Classics (silents/avant garde)
Release Date: 9-SEP-2003
Media Type: DVD
From the Back Cover
Beneath the splendid riches of the Paris Opera House lie ancient catacombs with a dark and forbidden secret. Once used as torture chambers, these passages now house the Opera Ghost (Lon Chaney), vowing vengeance on the human race and obsessed with young opera ingenue Christine (Mary Philbin). Featuring terrifying make-up and gothic setpieces which remain thrilling today, this spine-tingling, macabre masterpiece can now be viewed in all its grand guignol glory. Utilizing the best 35mm print of the 1929 reissue from the George Eastman House and material from the UCLA Film and Television Archive, this stunning video master features a magnificent orchestral score by Carl Davis (Napoleon) and a stunning restoration of the Technicolor masked ball sequence! 2-Disc DVD Collector's Set! Includes Two Versions! 1925 Original Feature (110 mins.) with a Score by Jon Mirsalis, 1929 Restored Version (98 mins.) with Two Soundtracks by Carl Davis (stereo) and the Original Theatrical Soundtrack (mono).
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Top customer reviews
I absolutely love Kino and all the wonderful things they've done for my film collection over the years, so it pains me to say that this isn't a very compelling Blu Ray disc. The print isn't in very good shape, and when transferred to video, the center of the image seems to have been a bit "lifted" from the gate, so the edges are in sharp focus, but the center is a bit blurred.
This alone would have bothered me, but I also have the BFI Blu Ray of the same film (it's an import from Europe), and the image quality on that disc is absolutely stunning. That disc also features a surround-sound orchestral score from Carl Davis, which is much better than either stereo soundtrack on the Kino blu ray (as much as I enjoy the Alloy Orchestra, this score is just run-of-the-mill). In fact, the BFI disc is so good that when I compared the Kino to the BFI just out of curiosity, I ended up watching the whole BFI movie.
Having the film available on the Kino disc in two speeds (20fps and 24fps) sounds great, but the 20fps version suffers from the "stuttering" motion that others have complained about when referring to the earlier Milestone DVD. The motions of people do look more natural, but the stuttering is just too distracting. The BFI blu ray has a wee bit of the stuttering effect, but it's not objectionable.
Both the BFI and Kino versions have one reel of the 1929 sound release that was discovered recently in the Library of Congress. It's really interesting and is of the same quality on both presentations.
The Kino version has a great 53-minute extra that contains a lot of the 1929 audio track to listen to. When appropriate, it's synced to footage from the 1929 film, but for the most part it's just audio. Still worth listening to, though.
Again, I don't like criticizing Kino*, but this disc ain't the one to get. Buy the BFI import from amazon.co.uk if it's still available; you won't regret it. (NOTE: The BFI print is region-free, but it includes a PAL DVD version of the whole package as well, and also a PAL DVD of the "Lon Chaney: Man Of A Thousand Faces" documentary from TCM and Kevin Brownlow. If your bluray player can't handle PAL DVDs, you won't be able to view these two DVDs.)
* my package also contained "Diary of a Lost Girl" from Kino on Blu ray, and that disc is stunning!
In 1929, four years after its initial release, Phantom of the Opera was re-released in a newly edited version. Some major changes were made, including re-scripting so that the actress who portrayed "Carlotta" in the 1925 version became Carlotta's mother in the 1929 version. This required changing some of the on-screen written dialogue (remember, this was a silent film) so that the actress was now outraged on behalf of her daughter, whereas in 1925 she was outraged on behalf of herself. This and other changes required the shooting of some new scenes. Print damage is evident in many places throughout the 1929 film, with significant damage in two scenes shot at the same time in the boudoir with the boat-shaped bed. Many scenes are color tinted, some sepia, some red, some blue. One long scene, the Masked Ball, is in a primitive two-color rendition, showing reds and greens.
The Blu-ray edition from Image Entertainment offers three versions of the film, with two prints of differing lengths for the 1929 reissue, and an original print from 1925. No restoration has been done on this film, with the video quality depending entirely on the as-found condition of the 35mm prints. The high-definition transcription brings out the best in the original source materials.
Now bear with me, this gets a little complicated. In a great oddity, the only way the various versions of the film are differentiated on the disc, and the only way to access them, is to select the musical accompaniment from the disc menu. The film versions themselves are not listed on the menu. What I will call "Version 1" runs 78 minutes, and has the best video quality, taken from a print in good condition. It can be identified and accessed by clicking on the Alloy Orchestra soundtrack. An alternate organ score by Gaylord Carter is also offered with Version 1.
"Version 2" runs 92 minutes, and can be identified on the disc menu by the Gabriel Thibaudeau orchestral score. The video is significantly lower in quality than Version 1, but still very watchable. The extra 14 minutes are devoted mostly to an extended ballet scene early in the film, and an elaboration on the "Carlotta and Carlotta's Mother" theme. Version 2 also has an excellent commentary by Jon Mirsalis, which I recommend for its insights into the history of the film and of Lon Chaney.
"Version 3" is the original 1925 film, running 114 minutes, identified on the disc menu by the Frederick Hodges piano score. It features the poorest video quality, and the trimming in 1929 actually improved the story. According to information on the disc case, it was supposedly taken from a "6 millimeter source", which I am sure was intended to say a 16mm source. The standard-definition 1925 version is of interest only for comparison with the 1929 reissue.
This is the first Phantom movie, featuring one of the great actors of the silent era, on a Blu-ray disc with two high-definition versions of the re-edited film from 1929, plus the standard-definition 1925 original. It is a fine addition to a film collection, and well worth the minor hassle required to find the various versions on the disc.
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